Prescribed Burns Planned on the Idaho Panhandle National Forests
Coeur d’Alene, Idaho (April 17, 2012) – The Idaho Panhandle National Forests plan to conduct prescribed burning during the spring and fall of 2012 on multiple locations across national forest system lands. The planned fires are part of the forest’s larger prescribed fire program designed to reduce hazardous fuels, improve big game habitat and improve forest health through prescribed burning during the spring and the fall.
“These prescribed fires compliment local community wildfire protection plans, and provide great benefits to forest health,” said Forest Supervisor Mary Farnsworth. “The end result will be reduced wildfire risks for local communities, improved wildlife habitat and a large step toward restoring the forest’s resiliency to threats such as uncharacteristic fires, insects and disease.”
Prescribed burning will only be conducted when certain weather, fuel moisture and smoke dispersion criteria are met, so the exact timing of burning is unknown. Up to 12,000 acres of national forest system lands in north Idaho could be burned this spring and fall depending on conditions. A complete list of planned prescribed fires including contact information and planned fire locations is available online atnorthidahorxfire.com or on the Idaho Panhandle National Forests website. Additionally, prescribed fire information will be maintained on a prescribed fire hotline at 1-800-232-FIRE. If you plan on recreating or hunting in these project areas make sure you understand your location relative to the burn units.
“Prescribed fire areas can be dangerous, so we urge members of the public to stay away from these areas during our burning operations and for a few days afterward,” Supervisor Farnsworth emphasized. If you find yourself in an active burn area, you should travel downslope or away from the predominant path of flames, because fire typically burns fastest upslope. When burn dates or date ranges are forecasted, signs will be posted along access roads and near affected trailheads and trail junctions. Temporary access restrictions or closures may be utilized if deemed necessary for public safety. Supervisor Farnsworth added, “We will minimize the use of closures by closing the smallest areas possible, and for the shortest time period necessary to protect public safety.”
Although areas will be monitored and inspected prior to ignition as an attempt to ensure that no members of the public are present, people who frequent these areas must inform themselves and use caution. A helicopter will be used to ignite many of these areas, and active burning will occur for a period of 2-3 days, with smoldering fire afterward until rains extinguish the fires. Burn areas can pose very hazardous conditions such as rapid and unpredictable spreading of flames, falling trees, heavy smoke and limited visibility, and rolling rocks and logs.
Prescribed burns, especially those within areas that contain a high volume of vegetation often produce large amounts of smoke. The Idaho Panhandle National Forests is a member of the Montana/Idaho Airshed Group, which monitors and limits the accumulation of smoke from controlled burns through scientific monitoring of weather conditions and formal coordination of burns. However, people who are sensitive to smoke may want to avoid these areas during burning operations.